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The #HalalChallenge Encourages Racism Via Pork

In Germany, protesters are putting pork products in halal food sections at supermarkets, filming it, and posting the videos online along with the hashtag #HalalChallenge. Animal rights, or abject racism?
Photo via Flickr user Anthony Albright

Last month, a mini crisis erupted in Germany when pork sausages began disappearing from menus in public canteens and schools. Germany, perhaps the sausage capital of the world, wasn't having it. "The consumption of pork belongs to our culture," said Daniel Gunther of the Christian Democratic Union. As they did in Denmark, politicians argued for a law to require public canteens to serve pork.

The CDU said that pork was being removed from menus to prevent offending observant Muslims, who consider pork haram, or ritually forbidden.

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Now, pork once again features in a conflict that is putting religious tension in Germany in the spotlight. Animal rights protesters are putting pork products in halal food sections at supermarkets, filming it, and posting the videos online along with the hashtag #HalalChallenge. Like the viral #IceBucketChallenge, the poster then tags a friend and exhorts them to produce and post his or her own video.

Und schön Schwein in die Halal Theke legen. #merkelmussweg #Deutschland #challenge #germany #patriots #remigration #followforfollow #patrioten #nosharia #fcukisis #like4like #likeforlike #follow4follow #schächtenächten #europe #reconquista #revolution #antihalal #halal #Freiheit #nohipster #ethnopluralisten #refugeesnotwelcome #Gegenscharia #identitäreaktion #halalchallenge #schwein #widerstand #identitaereaktion

A video posted by Melanie Dittmer (@melanie_dittmer) on Mar 29, 2016 at 5:08pm PDT

The creators of the #HalalChallenge say that the slaughter of animals according to Islamic law is a form of cruelty. The Qur'an dictates that an animal must fully bleed out; in practice, animals are sometimes killed without sedation methods like stunning. But the movement has attracted various right wing anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant supporters, and critics say the campaign is racism in disguise. The German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reports that the organizer of Bonn's anti-immigration movement as well as the founder of Hooligans Against Salafists have cheered the #HalalChallenge online.

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Muslim immigration to Europe has surged due to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, and Germany has taken the lead in welcoming refugees, allowing more than one million refugees—the majority from Syria and Iraq—to enter its borders so far. Strains are beginning to show, with anti-immigration movements gaining strength. Terror attacks in France and Belgium have further aggravated tensions in Germany and elsewhere.

Pork has sometimes found itself at the center of the controversy and has been the weapon of choice for some. In addition to Germany and Denmark, France has seen efforts by town mayors to ensure pork is on the menu, and a pig's head was recently dumped at the Moroccan ambassador's home in France. According to RT, similar incidents occurred around the world in December, with a pig head dumped outside a Muslim school in Lancashire, England; a pig head left outside a mosque in Philadelphia; and a pig head left in the toilet of a Muslim prayer room at an Australian school.

#halalchallenge #gegenschächten #tierschutz #identitäreaktion #heimat #Freiheit #tradition #patriot #like4like #like4like A video posted by Susanne Freidenker (@leonida.nrw) on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:06pm PDT

Due to pressure from internet users who have accused them of supporting animal cruelty, some supermarkets have found themselves clarifying how the halal meat they carry is produced. The grocer Edeka responded that all animals slaughtered for its halal meat were sedated. The Austrian grocer Spar gave in to public pressure and said it will stop carrying halal meat, even though the grocer clarified that its Halal meat was from sedated animals, too.

The #HalalChallenge has gained steam online, but much of the hashtag's traction is from people speaking out against it. But those who support the #HalalChallenge are spreading, with people from Britain, Mexico and elsewhere expressing approval on social media.